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Apple’s iPhone SE is dead, and with it the age of compact phones is officially over
Apple’s iPhone SE is dead, and with it the age of compact phones is officially over: Remember how predictable Apple’s product announcements used to be back in the day? That all changed with the 2013 introduction of the “low-cost” iPhone 5c, followed by the first plus-sized version in 2014, a return to the family’s compact roots with 2016’s iPhone SE, and the first three-model lineup last year.
It was this relative volatility that made us hope a belated iPhone SE sequel would arrive alongside the XS, XS Max, and XR by the end of the year, which obviously didn’t happen. But what’s perhaps sadder is that no one seemed to care the last small iPhone reached its end of life status.
Granted, it was time, even though the iPhone SE has no problem running the latest iOS version and could well receive the next one too. You can also still purchase it from a number of US retailers and carriers with prepaid plans at ultra-low prices, not to mention a whole army of trusted eBay sellers.
The fact remains this is a dead phone walking, truly marking the end of an era. In case you haven’t noticed, mobile devices are getting bigger and bigger. Because jumbo-sized screens are now the norm, we don’t even use the term “phablet” anymore.
While Steve Jobs is spinning in his grave, we’d like to take a moment and pay this entire market segment our respects by analyzing what went wrong.
The iPhone 6 started it
Three long years after the launch of Samsung’s original Galaxy Note, Apple finally caved and unveiled its first “iPhablet”, which was physically larger than the Note 4, but with a slightly smaller screen.
The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and 4.7-inch iPhone 6 sold like hotcakes, despite build quality concerns, making the 4-inch iPhone 5s feel like a relic. The 6s and 6s Plus didn’t change much, but then the iPhone SE came to follow in the footsteps of a completely archaic 5s.
Apple had definitely learned from the 5c’s mistakes, putting the same processor on the SE as on the 6s, but it may have been too late for compact handsets. Specific sales numbers for specific iPhone models are always hard to come by, but it’s enough to take a look back at Apple’s April – June 2016 financial report to find out everything we need to know.
Total iPhone shipments during the SE’s first quarter in stores were down year-on-year, although Apple obviously didn’t release anything in the first half of 2015. Fast forward to today, and the iPhone SE US market penetration is below that of the 6, 6s, and 6s Plus.
Bottom line, the world might be regretting Apple’s last 4-incher, but while alive, this simply wasn’t popular enough to warrant a follow-up effort.